SFA falls to UAB, Miss. State in Bulldog Round-Robin

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A day after the season opener was delayed by winter weather, the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks began the 2010 campaign with a cold offense, dropping two games in the Mississippi State Bulldog Round-Robin. SFA suffered a 5-1 defeat against Alabama-Birmingham in the first game, then dropped an 8-0 decision against the Bulldogs in the day's second contest.

The Ladyjacks managed just four hits on the day – two in each game – and combined for 18 strikeouts in the two contests.

The difference-maker in the opener was the fifth inning, when the Blazers put up three runs with a two-out rally. After a leadoff single by Caley Walden, SFA retired the next two batters on an interference call and a grounder to third. Walden took second on the ground-out, and the next batter, Catherine Douglass singled to bring her home, breaking a 1-1 tie. Mandy Lowman followed with a two-run homer to right-center field.

The Blazers would add an insurance run on Lowman's second home run in the top of the seventh, and SFA went down in order in the bottom half to end the game.

After three scoreless frames to start the game, UAB struck first with a single, double and RBI groundout to put a run on the board in the top of the fourth. UAB scored all five of its runs in the opener with two outs.

SFA answered the fourth-inning score with a two-out run of its own in the bottom half. After a ground ball and a strikeout to start the inning, senior Briana Bishop added to her school-record long ball total with a home run to right-center, tying the score.

But the Ladyjacks would not post another hit and managed to put just two runners on base in the final three innings. UAB starter Alisha Smith finished with 10 strikeouts. Freshman catcher Brittany Caruthers had SFA's other base knock, a double in the second inning.

Junior Monika Covington started and pitched the entire game for SFA. She was charged with five earned runs on 11 hits and two walks. Covington finished with five strikeouts.

The host Bulldogs rang up a run-rule-shortened verdict in the second game, finishing the Ladyjacks off in five innings.

Mississippi State put up a five spot on four base hits in the first inning, while SFA's offensive struggles continued. The Bulldogs added a run in the third inning and two more in the fourth, then retired SFA in order in the top of the fifth to finish things out.

Sophomore Jessica Arana singled in the third, and Bishop had a single in the fourth, providing the only hits for SFA in the game.

Freshman Angela White started and worked all four innings. She was touched for eight runs, seven earned, on six hits and five walks.

SFA will close out the tournament Sunday with back-to-back games against UAB and Mississippi State. The Ladyjacks will take on the Blazers at 11 a.m. and are scheduled to meet the Bulldogs at 1 p.m.